Occasionally, the Old Men of the Mountain consider the weather and right now, as the scribe squints his tired old eyes at the machine that types on glass, it is Nov. 8 and it is beautiful outside. Not only that but the TV will, or should, be rid of all those political ads. OF course, one OF mentioned the broadcast stations will be missing a source of easy revenue.

The roving reporter reported that there were even fewer at the restaurant than previously. All the OMOTM can’t wait for this “pandemic” to be (more quotes) “over” or a workable “vaccine” found and the group can get back together again, this scribe included. This scribe hopes there is not another “plague” waiting in the wings to come on stage.

During this time of limited travel many of the OMOTM are fixing up their domiciles, or, as some are doing, playing with wild animals. Some have said they are training chipmunks to eat out of their hands, but many of the OMOTM say these things are nothing but rodents and are worse than mice.

However, don’t tell the chipmunks that because, according to the OMOTM, they think the chipmunk enjoys the camaraderie and the free food. On the other hand, one OF is taming a mink. He has a video of the furry critter cavorting on the deck of his pond in back of the OMOTM’s home.

This scribe does not think the mink will ever be tamed but he thinks it is just hanging around for a handout. It must be fun to see such an elusive wild animal behave like this.

One OF years ago told the story of having a skunk adopt his home. The OF said he did not know it was around because there was no odor until one day, when he was getting the tractor out from the garage, a little black nose poked out from behind a piece of plywood leaning against the wall. The OF said he didn’t do anything but back the tractor out.

This procedure went on for about a week. One day the OF said he summed up a little nerve and reached over with his hand out and the skunk approached his hand and took a sniff. From then on, the OF and the skunk were friends.

One day, the OF and his wife were going square dancing and were waiting for the rest of the square to come and pick them up. The other couples seemed to be a little late so the OF went out to see if for some reason they were there waiting for the OF and his wife to come out. And they were, but their concern was the skunk in front of the garage door.

The OF said, as he approached the car after calling to his wife that they were there waiting, the driver lowered his window and said, “Go back! Skunk, skunk! There is a skunk in front of your garage door.”

The OF said, “Oh that! Hang on! I will let it in,” and the OF opened the garage door and the skunk waddled in.

The OF commented that the skunk hung around for about three years and finally just disappeared — one day it was just gone. The OF said it was like losing a cat or a dog — just gone.

The other odd thing is there never was an odor. It is an example, this scribe thinks, that animals adopt us, not the other way around. When anyone gets a cat or a dog, or even a canary, these animals usually just put up with you. We never own them; we just think we do, no matter what they cost.

 

Gust throws tree into OF’s house

There was some excitement at one of the OMOTM’s home on Monday, Nov. 2, when the winds were so high. At this OMOTM’s place, a gust of wind came through around 12:15 p.m. that drew the attention of the OF and his wife.

The OF said he heard the roar for about an instant (however long that is) then the house shook, and there was a huge crash. The OMOTM’s wife said excitedly, “Look out the bathroom window.”

The OF quickly went to the bathroom window and all the OF said he saw was branches. A huge tree in back of the house blew over and crashed against the house.

What a mess — there was a branch through the roof of a room in back of the house; part of the ceiling was down. The OF went outside and what clutter was seen then. The tree lay on the roof of the 3-season room and up against the main part of the house.

The OF said that he told his wife, “This is not going to be a good day.”

The OF said he then called Pridemark Tree Service, which is owned by the son of one of the OMOTMs and does a lot of work here in the Hilltowns. They were at the OFs home in short order, checked the situation out, and showed up the next day with enough equipment to build the Grand Coulee Dam, and in about four hours had the situation cleared up to the point where everything was safe.

Now comes the cleanup. The OF said that tree appeared healthy and was the air-conditioner for the house in the summer.

At this point in the month, the OFs have made it through the pandemic, political elections, animal activities, uncertain weather, and there is still a lot more to come. Being an adult is like folding a fitted sheet.

“It’s paradoxical that the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn’t appeal to anyone,” said Andy Rooney.

It is tough for this scribe to type the month “November” but there is no stopping time. Time marches on, so they say, and each breath is in the future and once taken is in the past.

The tendency to stay home among most of the OMOTM still carries on; however, many took the advantage of early voting hoping the status quo holds forth and nobody kicks the bucket between voting and Nov. 3.

A couple of OMOTM usually worked at the polling places, but this year because of the virus they decided not to. One said it is about time some of the younger people did that job, we are getting too old, but one said he liked doing it because he got to meet his neighbors.

When times were different, the OMOTM would bring breakfast to the OMOTM that was working the polls, and the others working there would grumble as the aroma of the OMOTM’s breakfast wafted through the polling place. Fun days.

Talking to the various OMOTMs one-on-one via the phone, this scribe has learned that some OFs take it day by day and whatever the day starts out the OFs take care of the problem, and the others have to-do lists. These to-do lists have carry-overs.

What does not get done today continues on to the next day. It is hard to know what causes more stress, the to-do list for some OFs, or the OFs who just wake up and whatever happens — happens.

Then there are OGs that don’t worry about either one; they have a wife that does that job. This is the OF’s typical honey-do list, and the scribe did find a multiple to-do list where the OF has one, the kids and grandkids have another, and the wife another.

This requires quite a bit of dovetailing to find out who gets what done first. The OF said generally it is his projects that come up last.

“But,” the OF continued, “when we were meeting on Tuesdays, that was always number one. This included doctors’ visits not made on Tuesdays unless in the middle of the afternoon, things like that.”

What constitutes a to-do list? One OF mentioned house maintenance is normal and not on the to-do list. Taking the wife shopping is on the to-do list. Phone calls are on there also.

This OF said he really falls into the category of not having a list; he just does as he is told, and goes to where he is directed. “That takes up my whole day,” the OF said.

 

Grocery costs

One OF complained about the price of groceries. The OF asked the scribe a rhetorical question about how much it costs to go to the grocery store now.

Then he added this comment: “Here we are with tons of people out of work and groceries going through the roof. How in blazes are they supposed to manage? They (whoever they are) keep touting on how we are supposed to eat healthy, but all the healthy food costs an arm and a leg; even cereal is getting expensive.”

If out of work, no money coming in and two kids, junk food is about all people can afford to keep the stomach from growling. The OF said, “Thank goodness for all the work people do with food banks and food giveaways. God bless these people.”

Then the OF continued, “Look what they charge for a box of corn flakes. I bet, if you dump the box and count the flakes, there isn’t even one ear of corn in the whole box.”

 

Animal welfare

A few of the OMOTM did get together and their conversations again were typical OMOTM talk except one OMOTM reported that his daughter-in-law unfortunately hit a bear cub and the OMOTM relating the information said the location was on Route 156 somewhere between Pleasant Valley Road and Route 157 (the Thompson’s Lake Road).

The OMOTM reported there was not much damage to the truck, but they had to put the poor cub down. There is one mad momma bear running around the woods in the Hilltowns right now.

This brought up notice of how this year has produced so much vegetation and food for animals native to the area, including bear and deer. They are well fed and enough should still be on the ground to help them out during the winter.

Rabbits are now as big as hound dogs, and squirrels are as big as cats. The whole collection of hills that make up the Helderbergs are covered with pine cones. 

The squirrels munch on a pine cone and have such a good time doing it. They leave the cone looking like the cob of an ear of eaten corn.

In this conversation, one OF wondered what the winter will be like. According to the woolly-bear, it will be similar to last year. Front and back — black; the middle — brown. However, the middle brown is somewhat darker than last year if that means anything.

For those of us who live in the Northeast, winter is snow problem, and when someone wishes me a “Happy Winter,” it always leaves me cold.

Some of the Old Men of the Mountain are beginning to come out of the woodwork. There have been a few meetings at a couple of places on different days. They all got together at the Chuck Wagon last Tuesday and, according to reports, there were about 10 there. Most, however, are still staying away from crowds and eating establishments.

It was reported that some of the conversation at the Chuck Wagon was on motorcycles and motorcycle repair, but there was also a discussion on bees. Honeybees are extremely important as well as butterflies.

Without these bees we don’t eat. As we have reported before, there is an apiarist (beekeeper) in the midst of the OMOTM. The OF who is the beekeeper was telling some of the other OFs that, instead of hauling all his bees to North Carolina for over the winter as he usually does, the bee-keeping family has decided they are going to keep them here. This Carolina trip has been in the column before.

The OF reported that his son found an article on keeping bees in Canada and how the Canadians keep their bees over the winter. So the OMOTM beekeeper and his son refurbished a chicken coop on their farm into a controlled atmosphere for keeping bees and they are going to use the converted chicken coop to keep the bees right on their farm over the winter months.

This endeavor, the OF told the group, will save them travel time back and forth plus they will not have to quarantine themselves for 14 days upon the return to New York. Ever wonder where Noah kept his bees? In his archives.

Other than the honeybee talk the conversations were rather routine and regular OMOTM conversation the OG on the phone said.

 

“United Statesicans”

In the paper the other day there was a conversation that hinged on the same discussion that the OFs had a while back. Sometime before whatever country it was that sent us this nasty little germ, the OFs would have momentary deep discussions — at least for the OMOTM.

This topic was on the word “Canadians.” We are Americans, Canadians are Canadians, Mexicans are Mexicans. Brazilians are Brazilians, so on, and so on. Canada and the United States are in North America. Mexico is in Central America. Brazil, Chile etc., are in South America. Doesn’t that make us all Americans? Why are we singled out as Americans?

This scribe thinks they really all are Americans, but it is tough to say “United Statesicans.” It is much easier to just stick the “icans” to Canada, and come up with Canadians, and Mexico to come up with Mexicans, etc. etc.

Then again, the U.S. is a conglomerate of a group of states into one country instead of being like South America where that part of the continent is a group of separate countries confined to one geographical land mass.

An OF at the time said, “Can you imagine the United States being like Europe with each state a country having its own currency. Holy cow! What a mess that would be.”

Another OF chimed in, “What would we call those from North and South Dakota, or even us from New York, and how about Massachusetts?”

Yet another OF said, “It is good we are all called Americans, but still again so are all the others in our hemisphere.”

Then an OF brought up the question of what about all indigenous people that inhabited the land before Amerigo Vespucci?

Enough of that, should we all be called Indians, now it becomes another can of worms.

 

Excursions

Now on to something else. Some of the OFs have the hobby of fishing. Some even couple this hobby along with other hobbies — as reported just a few weeks ago — motorcycle trips.

Fishing poles are easy to carry (as are some of the lures) and as these OFs travel around using one hobby to facilitate another like camping, and that one to facilitate another like fishing, they are able to make possible both of those from the motorcycle. The OFs into those hobbies are kept busy.

One OF mentioned that this fall has been great to do all three, and some of the pictures he has sent show that the OFs are having one heck of a good time. The latest excursion has been to Lake George and elsewhere in the Adirondacks.

One of the OFs says it gets him out, and social distancing is not a problem because most of the time he and a couple of other OGs are by themselves.

The fishing experiences in many cases are catch and release. When the OF is fishing by boat, it is still a lonely sport, and still outdoors, except when driving to wherever. No one ever said fishing is a contact sport, except on the Salmon River in Pulaski when the fish are running. Fishing is done by OFs into their eighties.

One of the OFs reported that, just to get out and enjoy the late fall weather and the color, they packed up a picnic lunch and took a ride to nowhere, had their lunch on a hilltop in the car, and then went home. Not a bad idea just to get out of the house.

Maxine (do you remember the crabby old lady?) said the leaves are falling faster than a politician’s approval ratings.

Location:

There are many topics the Old Men of the Mountain have discussed via the now technology-loaded instruments developed by ole Alex G. Bell. It is rumored that the original annoying communication tool was possibly invented by some guys like Elisha Gray, Antoino Maucei, or others.

Of course the current times are mentioned by those OMOTM because they are concerned about what is going on with medications because of their ages. The OFs were all hoping for a remedy that will work if you get the virus and a few maintain a cure is already out there.

Then there is the vaccine that appears to be close. One OF mentioned the vaccines that have been developed and how well they have worked.

An OF related that, at one point, this family doctor was a research doctor and the company he worked for closed, so he went into private practice. This doctor told the OF that the doctors and medical people that are in the research business are doing the best they can.

Many doctors or members of their family have the same illnesses that we all suffer from. The research people are not kidding around — they want the cure and they are devoting their lives on finding just that.

This OF said he will always remember that. This particular doctor was also not a pill-pushing doctor. The OF said he used to get a jumping nerve in his head that at times really hurt. When it jumped, the pain then would drop him to his knees; when the pain stopped, it went away like nothing happened and the OF was fine until this nerve jumped again.

To make a long story short, the doctor told the OF, “Oh, I have this problem too; you have trigeminal neuralgia.”

The OF said he thought this was something terrible and asked the doctor, “What do I do now?”

The doctor said, “Wear a hat.”

The OF said he now wears a hat all the time, and has never had the problem since. Worth the five bucks co-pay for that one.

 

Politics

Despite the OMOTM’s rule against talking politics, voting came up twice, and two OM thought that this election is going to be a mess, and why didn’t they leave well enough alone? You can tell we are Old MOTM.

One OF said, “What if you early vote, and one of the nominees running dies. You have already voted. Does any voting count then? Or another scenario could be that you voted and later on you find out the one you voted for is a skunk and you want to change your vote, now what?”

Another OF, who has a semi-common name, mentioned his mail gets screwed up every now and then. This OF also said that on his road one time there was a substitute carrier and everyone’s house was one house off.

The OF said he had the mail for the place next door, and they had the mail for the one next to them, etcetera, etcetera. This OF’s mail was delivered to the house next to him.

Admittedly this was only once in many years but it can happen. This is going to be a mess. Not one of the OFs really know whose idea voting by mail was but they think it is going to be crazy anyway.

One OF thought voting by mail will be a good idea with the way things are now to not have to go and mingle with all the people. Vote by mail and let the chips fall where they may.

The mess it’s going to make will create great entertainment with all the finger-pointing afterwards no matter who wins. One OF said there are going to be great paydays for lawyers coming up.

A final thought on voting: George Washington is the only president who didn’t blame the previous administration for his troubles.

 

Advice for Yankees

The few OFs spoken to had no other thoughts in common, other than the Yankees being out of the World Series this year. It is surprising how many of the OFs are Yankee managers and scream and yell at the TV.

One wants Boone to get some pitchers, and others want Boone to sit Sanchez down and let Higashioka catch, park Judge, and put Frazier in right field. Too bad Aaron Boone can’t hear all this abundant advice.

 

News 

Again, and it is just a few of the number of OFs called; the OFs have given up watching the news. Maybe it is because many are on the short end of the ruler, and watching the death count day after day is not fun, or necessary in the OFs’ opinion. These OFs rely on the “Flintstones” and “Happy Days” at supper time.

In the paper, about all the OFs contacted read is the obits and the funnies. Occasionally, a good grabbing lead-in to a story might pique their attention and the OF will read that, but a lot of the paper winds up in the landfill not read.

Those that get The Enterprise do read that to see what’s going on locally.

One OF mentioned that, from reading the obits, he sees how much longer older people are living. The OF said he is approaching 84 (which means he is now 83) but people are hanging in there until their nineties.

The OF said it used to be quite rare, but now it seems to be more common. The discussion led to how we are constantly being told the air is bad, don’t drink milk, stay away from processed foods and red meat, and the list goes on and on, even to the point we take too many pills.

The question was: Why are we living so much longer, and why do I feel so good at 83 when I am eating all the wrong stuff? Will you please pass me my hamburger and French fries.

The phone calls today brought information that some of the Old Men of the Mountain are gathering in small groups of three to five people. There appears to be three groups of these OMOTM getting together.

However, they are not combined as a unit. One group of three gathers every now and then; this is a group of guys that have a common interest. Another group apparently meets on Friday, and another holds to Tuesdays.

The communality of the groups looks to be like interests and the desire for socialization. This is a strong feeling for all the OFs, including those who are still hunkered down.

 

Coping with storm aftermath

There were other conversations (and the conversations were few) concerning the problem the OFs thought affected just about everybody in the surrounding area. That was the storm that visited our region on Wednesday, Oct. 7. Some of the OFs reported being without power for four days, and for others the power was off for about one-and-a-half days.

Much of this dialogue was how prepared they were for such a situation. With the OMOTM, again, it was a few who were quite well prepared with whole-house generators, stored water, and quick meals in the freezer.

One did not have a whole-house generator but he had a generator that would run most of what he needed. This OF would run the refrigerator and freezer for a while, then he would run the furnace. He could not run the pump in the well, but they had stored water for washing, and using the toilet. The OF said they had bottled water for cooking and drinking when needed.

Another OF said that he thinks everyone should have a list made for medicines, hygiene, clothes, and food for at least a couple of weeks. Make a place to keep this list, and a system for use, then replace used items to keep it well stocked, but not stale.

It was surprising for this scribe to see in these few calls how many of the OFs have something like this going already. This scribe guesses it is because they have been through it before. Especially on the mountain when those living here had to experience the winter of 1957.

That was some experience in 1957. The farmers could not ship their milk because the roads were impassable. Buildings were collapsing because of the weight of the snow.

Farmers were getting food and hay for the livestock dropped by airplanes. Farmers with animals were digging tunnels to the barn to get to the cows that had to be milked.

This scribe has pictures of snow so high that his brother stepped from the snow to the roof of the barn. The plows in many places could not push the snow; huge truck-driven snow blowers were brought in to clear the roads.

In places on the roads, the snow was so deep that volunteers stood on top of the snow and shoveled it into the snow blowers. In places also the snow covered the power lines, and all this was reported in three sections of the towns of Wright, Knox, and Berne, let alone what other towns the local residents could not experience.

One OF who worked at the cement plant in Howe Cave related how the cement plant had to shut down, and sent out all its heavy equipment with operators and helpers (who lived right around the plant) to help clear the roads. So that snowstorm would include the towns of Cobleskill and Schoharie also and maybe others.

It was the type of event which many people count other events by — like World War II, the birth of a baby, or a wedding, or funeral.

 

Changing weather?

The OFs mentioned that we don’t have winters like that anymore. Winters when the OFs were younger seemed to be different.

They seemed shorter, with lots more snow, and easier. Now the winters seem to have less snow, longer, are more bitter, and no fun at all. To which this scribe replied maybe it is because our old bones and thin blood, with a low rate of metabolism, makes it seem like that. The OF didn’t think so.

The OFs say the weather is changing. One OF asked the question, “Have we ever had a storm like the one which came through on Wednesday?”

The scribe had to reply not that he could remember. The scribe and his wife, and a house guest watched it come from the west, over the trees in back of their home and slam into the house as they watched out the kitchen window.

It bordered on scary as it approached and hit. A few minutes later, the lights flickered and went out. That was it for about three days. Fortunately, the generator kicked in.

Now will this be the time event that is used to measure other events by? Nah, this is just a blow compared to 1957.

A little groaner from the internet will close this column’s final thoughts on power outages and weather: When I was younger, I was scared of the dark. Now, when I get my electric bill, I am afraid of the light.

The OMOTM and friends on a spur-of-the-moment jaunt to Bath, Maine, stop at Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire.

Boy! The news of the day politically might change some opinions both ways. A few of the Old Men of the Mountain I talked to commented that both sides of the fence are filling up.

This little report keeps advising that, in many cases, age is just a number. That is quite two-sided. Sometimes age creeps up and the genes are really rotten. All the advice about what to do to keep your health comes with a grain of salt.

The OMOTM can and do attest to that. Some OFs are 80 years old and carry on like they were 50 or 60 while others can be 50 or 60 and carry on like they were 80. In many conversations, this scribe has ascertained that it has nothing to do with lifestyle; it is genes.

Some of the OFs had it tough in the beginning. They smoked, drank, ate all the wrong stuff, and got only about three hours of sleep on a good day. Now they are 80 and doing basically the same thing.

Others, who had the chance to live basically right in the beginning, and who are still trying to do so, are now 70 and have trouble getting out of bed. These same OFs keep many doctors in practice.

It is a matter of who has the genes and who doesn’t. At least that is the way it looks to this scribe.

There is one big BUT here and that is: With eating right, getting exercise, and enough sleep, it may be possible to beat the gene thing, or at least improve on it. Maybe, if done often enough, it may help change the getting- old-quick-gene to getting old less quickly for your kids. The scribe really doesn’t know if this is how it works or not.

This scribe, in an answer (or maybe it was a discussion) that most did not know, and that dialogue was, where is the cut-off point? Or is there even a cut-off point?

 

On the road

What prompted the scribe to remember the discussions on this topic (which had to be pulled out from all the truck, tractor, and car bits) was recently an OMOTM reported on two motorcycle trips that he took that covered many days and miles.

The first one was over 1,500 miles-plus some days with a group of friends. The second one that the OF just returned from was to Bath, Maine. One day, they just thought it would be great to go to Maine for some chowder and lobster.

This trip included various stops along the way with sight-seeing taken in. Side point: It is fun to be retired and able to do things like this, and have the right genes to pull it off.

According to the OF, this trip was planned and laid out by a friend of his who is 77 years old. Now this theme harkens back to the gene bit at the beginning. Not many people 77 to 80 years old can sling their leg over a motorcycle and head out on a four- or five-day trip.

Is it careful living in the beginning, or is it genes?

According to the OF, the trip was great, and the weather was great, and there were no incidents like flat tires or little bumps in the road that generally happen when this type of experience takes off. As a rule, something is bound to happen that puts a little damper (or sometimes a big damper on) excursions like this.

The group did have a bear cross the road in front of them but that is not an intrusion but part of the adventure. The scribe thinks maybe breakdowns are also part of the adventure.

Though there was some color, the OF reported the leaf peepers were not out yet so the ride was very comfortable in that regard. The little group traveled back roads and made many stops; the OF said they were not in a race. The scribe thinks they were too old for racing anyway.

It is noticeable the group followed a column written a little while back about camping, and sleeping bags, and putting up tents; however, the photograph shows this group was motel-ing it.

There, again as reported, a few of the OFs are getting together (this scribe now wonders if the word “together” was developed by groups of ancient chauvinist guys who gathered in groups and were out after the female sex and would say, “OK, guys lets go out ‘to-get-her’” which shrunk down to the guys going out together — hmmm). Back to original thought.

As the scribe read somewhere online: Young motorcycle riders pick a destination and go. Old riders pick a direction and go. There are drunk bikers. There are old bikers. There are no old, drunk bikers. 

 

It is tough to know where to begin. The few Old Men of the Mountain this scribe has spoken to are just like the scribe. None of them have really gone anywhere.

The OMOTM’s outings have been either for groceries, or for doctors’ appointments. As mentioned last week, a few have gone out to restaurants but not all (at least the ones spoken to) have yet. Some are planning on it.

The drive-through chicken barbecues have been frequented by some, and these BBQs are clever in the way the customers are handled. Some need to have reservations made and others have first-come, first-served until all are gone. Pizza is another favorite to-go food; just call, then go to pick up your pizzas, or have them delivered.

One good thing that is happening is the OFs’ domiciles are being spruced up. This is happening because many people now have time at home. This scribe has not checked with the whole list of OFs but he probably should. One day the scribe should put the list in front of him and start with the A’s. So the scribe finally did.

On the top of the list is Bill Bartholomew and that is very sad because Bill’s wife passed away a little while ago. The funeral service was held in New Smyrna, Florida, and an interment ceremony was held at the Breakabeen Cemetery in Breakabeen last weekend. The Old Men of the Mountain offer their condolences and prayers for Bill on the loss of his wife, Sylvia.

 

Colors pop

At this time of year, the fall colors pop out, and it seems that a few days ago, as the colors were just starting, one OF said he went for groceries with the wife. When they finished shopping and headed home, the trees had changed by 50 percent just while they were in the store.

The OF, and the scribe, agree fall has some nice weather and in the Northeast we get some beautiful color from the trees, but it doesn’t last long. As the scribe types this, the weather report says rain is on the way, and the temperature will drop.

What happens fall after fall just as the leaves become really beautiful? Along will come a cold rain, and then wind, and all the leaves are blown away. We really don’t get to enjoy them for very long. As the OF on the phone said, we all know what fall is the harbinger of.

 

Happy campers?

The OFs that are, and were, campers say early fall is the best time to go camping, but most of the time it has to be on weekends because the kids are in school. One OF said that his kids liked camping in the summer because of boats, and swimming, and this seemed strange that kids would even notice it, but they also noted the longer days.

The adults liked the fall because the heat and humidity generally were gone, and the air was crisp (but not really cold) in the evening and the campfire seemed to just crackle a little more. Snuggled under a throw or blanket in front of the fire, conversation, even with the kids, seemed quieter and deeper.

Now that the OFs are “old OFs” camping is not the best thing in the world. The damp air of the evening makes the ole arthritic joints really ache, and the “8-hour arthritic Tylenol” does not help much. Neither does crawling inside a sleeping bag; the back won’t let the OF reach down and pull up the zipper.

But it is really nice to have camped for quite a few years when younger. One OF said he guessed, if he now had a motorhome, or big tow-behind, it wouldn’t be that bad. Another Of added that he would have to be a guest because they won’t let him drive anymore.

As long as the OFs are able to be OMOTM it is not that bad, but being OFs keeps a lot of people employed in order to take care of us.

 

Play ball

In one conversation, the topic was baseball and that was unusual. Years ago, the OMOTM had a diehard Yankees fan. This OF has been gone for many years. Carl Slater knew and followed the Yankees inside out.

This present discussion was on the shortened 2020 season and the current Yankees and money. The OF and this scribe were on the same page on this one. The OF thought that the Yankees with their high payroll should win just about every game they play.

This does not seem to be the case. It seems even the team that has the lowest salary budget on any given day will clean the Yankees’ clock. Both the OF and this scribe think football players, basketball players, baseball players, and other athletic players are way overpaid and not worth it.

But this is only the opinion of a couple of OFs; then again, maybe the OFs are just jealous.

This scribe loves autumn. It gives him a chance to sit at home and watch the World Series. Kind of like the Yankees. Well, at least the Yankees are trying. They installed a new pitching machine the other day. Unfortunately, it beat them, 4 - 1.

Location:

We all wish, hope, pray for this “pandemic” to be over. The disruption is getting to be a real pain. Pretty soon it will become commonplace; however, the OMOTM are still around and waiting.

It is getting close to hunting season. This is one thing that people can do and social distancing is almost automatic. Most of the time, the hunter is out there alone with his gun. Some of the OMOTM are hunters. The scribe knows this from all the stories told by the OFs and their conquests bantered around the table many times from previous years.

Out hunting with these guys must be an experience. Handling a cane and a gun at the same time is not the easiest thing to do. So one OF may be out with another OF in the woods, one has one eye, and the other has arthritis and both are carrying loaded shotguns. Now this is a combination anyone else in the woods would not want to run into because both of the OFs have hearing aids and a tendency to fire at whatever rustles.

The other eventuality that could happen and often does happen, according to the OMOTM: They do manage to bag what they are hunting for. Now comes the problem of getting the prey out of the woods. This is a real huff-and-puff situation, with many stops to let the heart get back into rhythm or catch their breath. At least with all this work it gives the OFs something to talk about at the next Tuesday’s breakfast. At times, there have been some nice show-and-tells of exploits completed with a trophy.

 

Fishing

Fishing is better; this is another activity many of the OFs partake in and now it can be done with no worries about social distancing because in most cases again it is automatic. This is unless the OF decides to go to Pulaski and the Salmon River when the salmon are running. There, this river becomes shoulder-to-shoulder with anglers at this sport so distancing is out of the question, because any vacant spot is soon filled in with another fisherperson with their poles ready to go.

But going to a creek, or taking your boat out on the lake or pond with maybe another OF having a grand time, singing the great Johnny Russell song “There is no place I’d rather be than right here, with my rednecks, white socks, and Blue Ribbon beer.”

OK, now substitute “old friend” for redneck, add a beat up ole rowboat with a little 10-horsepower mercury on the stern, a full can of worms, a packed cooler, and go out on the Vlaie Pond (note: a tributary of Catskill Creek in Schoharie County. Vlaie or vly is a term brought to us from the Dutch and its meaning is swamp).

Fishing any of the local lakes or ponds for whatever would bite would be a great way to spend the day while practicing social distancing.

 

Hiking

Some of the OFs hike, and many would like to go for a long walk in the woods, but the OFs’ hearts, legs, lungs, or feet won’t let them do it.

One OF explained, before all this started, that he was really discouraged because he was a hiker, and even maintained some of the local trails but his body won’t let him do it anymore. Now his eyes won’t even let him work in the shop.

 

Writing 

This OF has led quite a life, and he should begin to write it down, if not for everyone else, at least for his kids. It might be a good suggestion for many OFs especially while all the faculties are still there, and the kids are still around to help out.

The problem is where and how to start. 

How about: “The first thing I can remember without help is” and go from there, backward and forward. 

Well, I just changed my password to “incorrect” so that, whenever I forget what it is, the computer will say, “Your password is incorrect.”

Location:

Some of the Old Men of the Mountain are taking chances and are going out to a few restaurants; however, this scribe is not one of them nor are many others. As ancient as we may be, many of the OMOTM are learning to be “virtual.” This is really no fun because there is nothing like person to person, eyeball to eyeball, heinie to heinie, or any other of those people-connecting terms.

One thing about virtual ability is, if the conversation becomes a little testy and one of the ones in the virtual group says something the others don’t agree with, the OF that uttered the offensive or wrong words can’t be slugged, whereas in a real group situation the OF might have to defend himself.

This has never happened in the OMOTM for two reasons. The OFs are too old to get their arms up to slug somebody, plus most of them can’t hear anyway and sometimes disparaging remarks go right over their heads or they just hear them wrong.

We all say age is just a number and that may be so, but our bodies react differently. In many discussions, the OFs say they can’t do this or that anymore and they still try, but a few things get in the way. Arthritis is one of these things, and depth perception is another (few people realize how important this depth perception is). One can hurt like crazy (the arthritis), and the other is painless and creeps in without the OFs knowing it.

 

When everyday life is too much like work

Another item is, for some reason, the OFs become tired easier and earlier. Of course the other ailments let the OFs know they are around, and sometimes the OFs fail to acknowledge their existence, but the body doesn’t.

In conversations with the OGs, the indication that some of the above is taking hold, and in some cases not slowing the OFs down, but it is just the words used. For instance, one OF complained about how long it takes him to get showered and dressed.

According to this OF, he thought it was just part of the daily routine. The OF would do both, go down have breakfast and go about his business. Recently he noticed that the shower took more time and, when he got out, it was like he had just finished some work.

Then, the OF continued, he rested a bit before he got dressed, and it was just until recently he was able to do that without much complaining. Then, suddenly, getting dressed was a form of work, and he just recently realized that also.

To add to this (and again it was a recent add to the morning routine), he sat down to put on his socks. His question was: When did all this happen? He feels just the same, and he does pretty much the same thing but now this bit of everyday life is getting to be too much like work.

Some of the OFs agreed with this guy and a few of those admitted having the same thing begin to happen to them. An OF said he was checking the clock just the other day because he thought he was having breakfast later, and the OF found that he was a whole half-hour later.  

One OF added to the conversation: “Just wait until one day you begin to notice the ache in your hands doesn’t go away. What you thought was because you bumped your hand is not what is hurting,” the OF said. “It is the beginning of arthritis. Welcome to getting old.”

This was the term the other OFs did not want to accept. They insisted they would continue to do what they were doing. The OFs agreed this was the thing to do, and so most of them try to keep on keeping on.

 

The thick of things 

As this scribe keeps reporting on the OFs activities, the OGs for the most part, are still in the thick of things. A few have had to slow down because the ailments and doctor appointments get in the way. One OF said, if you looked at his calendar, it looks like the OF is a pretty busy guy, but most of the dates are doctors’ appointments, or physical-therapy appointments, mixed in with a few birthdays and social events, and church work. 

Today, this scribe wonders what the calendar would look like minus the social events and church work. This scribe knows it is becoming rather boring hunkering down and not seeing all the OMOTM, the table laughter, and the discussions. The scribe keeps mentioning the hobbies of the OMOTM, but as with this scribe, the human connection is very important; soon the hobbies become more like work and not as much fun.

 

Flying high

We have one OF who really knows about social distancing and he is keeping the other OFs that are joined on Facebook with him interested in what will be his next local aerial presentation. As long as the weather is good, this OF takes his plane, flies over the area, and on Facebook posts his latest shot.

If the OFs who get his pictures and then save them to photos and then enlarge them, it’s fun to see what the OF is able to pick out. Like we mentioned above, some hobbies do keep us occupied.

 

OFs’ texting decoded

And another thing. We hear that some senior citizens have taken to texting with gusto. Texting keeps them in touch with their friends and even their grandchildren. These OFs have their own vocabulary:

— BFF: Best Friend Fainted;

— BYOT: Bring Your Own Teeth;

— CBM: Covered by Medicare;

— FWB: Friend with Beta-blockers;

— LMDO: Laughing My Dentures Out; and

— GGPBL: Gotta Go, Pacemaker Battery Low!

The OMOTM will continue with some of what the OGs did 30 or 40 years ago — maybe even longer. When the group was just beginning (before the OMOTM ever dreamed they would be a larger group of old guys) we, at that time, did not consider the group as old. The assemblage would all fit in one car and we took turns being the chauffeur.

No one minded the others driving until we had an OF join the group that everyone knew. He was a nice enough OG even though he was a hay dealer, as well as a farmer. Farmers were really OK guys until they had the distinction of being a hay dealer added to their résumés. The hay dealer bought and sold hay from farmer to farmer.

Herbie Wolford sold his own excess hay. That was a big difference. This particular OMOTM, who is being remembered here (name withheld) purchased hay from other farmers and re-sold it to still other farmers. A lot of this OF’s business was in Canada; the OG did cart it all over the place.

Most of the time he hauled it himself, so he was gone a lot from the farm. This may be one of the reasons his wife ran off with the hired hand. That is another story.

One would think the thousands of miles he put behind the wheel of a hay truck would make him a good driver, and he did have to know what he was doing because, as far as the OMOTM know, this OF never had an accident, or a citation. Nevertheless his driving with the OFs was atrocious.

When it was his turn to drive, everyone one shuddered; some did not want to go if they had to ride with him. No one wanted to sit up front. It was not speed that was a factor; it was the fact that he considered both sides of the road to be his. The solid yellow line meant nothing; neither did stop signs, sharp turns, or slow-moving tractors.

One day, it was this OF’s turn to drive and the restaurant that particular Tuesday happened to be the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville. At that time, a young couple was just getting the restaurant started and the OMOTM wanted to help. That the young lady getting it going was sociable and pretty didn’t hurt.

The OFs were in no hurry to leave Herbie’s residence and the last one out had to sit up front. The route the OFs took to Rensselaerville was (anyone familiar with the Hilltowns will be able to follow this, the others will have to use their imaginations) Pleasant Valley Road to Rock Road, Rock Road to Switzkill Road (County Route 1).

From Rock Road to County Route 1 there is a little connector road about 1,000 feet and it crosses Helderberg Trail, State Route 443, by the cemetery on the hill outside of Berne. Going toward Rensselaerville there is a blind curve coming from Gallupville that goes around the cemetery. This intersection crosses Route 443 at this point.

The driver that morning for the OMOTM took that route and approached this intersection on the connector road at full speed. He did not slow down or stop or even look right or left, but zipped right through the intersection crossing Route 443 like it wasn’t even there.

One could hear a pin drop in that car for the next five miles. The first words spoken came from Herbie in the back seat. “Anybody got dry pants?” he asked.

The final incident that had the OFs request that this OF save the gas, plus wear and tear of his vehicle and asked not to drive any more was on Old Stage Road just outside of Altamont on top of the hill. Again, anyone that knows the road knows that there is a section that is very steep, and winds up as part of the escarpment that is Thacher Park.

The OF who is being talked about was the driver for the day and he was dropping off riders as they headed back to Herbie’s home after breakfast. The OF was headed up Old Stage Road when he quickly approached a pickup truck that was overloaded with plywood as it was making its way up into the first turn.

Per usual, this OG approached the truck at full bore when all the sheets of plywood started sliding off the back of the truck (the load was not tied down in any fashion) onto the road right in front of the OFs who were holding on for dear life.

This driver whipped right around the mess and truck with no regard to any traffic coming down the hill and proceeded up the hill on the wrong side of the road. This time there were comments!

The riders wanted to know if he wasn’t going to stop so the OFs could help out by putting the plywood back on the truck and clearing the road, or at least stop traffic coming down the hill or going up, because after the driver losing the plywood realized it was no longer on the back of the truck he was quite a ways up the hill.

The OF’s driver’s comment was “H--- no; if he is stupid enough not to tie that kind of load down, let him pick it up himself,” and he kept right on going.

That was the last straw. The OMOTM gathered enough courage to suggest to him that he did not have to drive anymore.

This driver has long since passed away, but those who witnessed these shenanigans have long remembered these early OMOTM days and it gives us something else to talk about.

The scribe, from past experience, can pass on to you these words of reality. Enjoy yourself. These are the good old days you’re going to miss in the years ahead.

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